You’d think that, after a week in which the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, rewrote the Second Amendment, and took a whack at the separation of church and state, maybe the justices would chill out for one fucking second. But, no, they apparently aren’t done taking a wrecking ball to the Constitution.
Today, the court ruled 6-3 in favor of Joe Kennedy, a white Christian (former) football coach at a public high school who led post-game prayers on the 50-yard-line and “invited” his players to join. Because the coach determined playing time, the liberal justices said during arguments that this “invitation” amounted to coercion.
The Washington state school district where Kennedy worked said in 2015 that he couldn’t lead prayers on the field because the prayers could be seen as the school supporting a religion. The school district tried to accommodate Kennedy by offering a less public place to pray after games, but he refused and was placed on paid administrative leave. Importantly, Kennedy didn’t lose his job; he simply didn’t seek to renew his contract and instead filed a lawsuit. However, he characterizes the whole saga as getting “fired.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, saying, “Both the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect expressions like Mr. Kennedy’s.” I, for one, can’t wait until the court finds that these First Amendment clauses don’t protect the religious expression of Jewish or Muslim people.
As Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, “This decision does a disservice to schools and the young citizens they serve, as well as to our Nation’s longstanding commitment to the separation of church and state,” adding that, “It elevates one individual’s interest in personal religious exercise, in the exact time and place of that individual’s choosing, over society’s interest in protecting the separation between church and state, eroding the protections for religious liberty for all.”
Sorry to everyone who’s not white, male, or Christian! The Supreme Court has made sure you know it doesn’t care about you.